Philippines Film Development Chairman Honored With French Knighthood

Briccio Santos

Briccio Santos was named a member of the French Légion d’Honneur for “his efforts in developing and promoting Philippine cultural identity through cinema.”

French President François Hollande has named Briccio Santos, chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), an official member of the French Légion d’Honneur.

French Embassy audiovisual attaché Martin Macalintal told the local Philippine press that Santos is being honored for “his efforts in developing and promoting the Philippine cultural identity through cinema, particularly in the preservation of Philippine film heritage through the creation of the National Film Archives of the Philippines, which is an advocacy greatly supported by France.”

STORY: Cannes: Philippines Cinema Comes to the Fore

Santos was appointed FDCP chairman in 2010 by President Benigno S. Aquino and has been credited with reinvigorating the body. Santos’ office founded the National Film Archive of the Philippines in 2011, an institution that had been sorely needed by the country for the preservation of its cinematic heritage. In 2012, the FDCP launched the country’s first International Film Expo (IFX), which combines an industry market with seminars and panel discussions to help educate and promote the Philippine industry. The first Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival, featuring 10 films funded by the FDCP and directed veteran Philippine filmmakers, followed the second edition of IFX held this September.

Santos told Philippine press the French honor is “a recognition, not only for me, but also for our country, in our continuing struggle to bring culture to the forefront of national consciousness.”

The FDCP chairman’s honor caps off a strong year for Philippine cinema. At this year's Cannes Film Festival, for the first time three Philippine features screened in the Directors' Fortnight and Un Certain Regard sidebars: Adolfo Alix Jr.’s prisoner of war piece, Death March; Lav Diaz’s four-hour  meditation on injustice, Norte, The End of History, and crime thriller On the Job, from Erik Matti.

REVIEW: On the Job

Matti’s On the Job was picked up for U.S. distribution before Cannes and Universal Pictures later optioned the film for a remake.

“We have a really hardworking FDCP today,” said Matti in recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “There used to be a useless group of people running it, whose main agenda was how to bloat the budget of projects so they could earn money from them, or travel abroad at the expense of the government. The new team under Briccio Santos really has their heart in the right place and they seem to understand the plight of the artist in relation to the country.”

Santos said the French honor “only strengthens my resolve to continue with the FDCP mission to help in the cultural empowerment of the country.”

“With this award, trust is brought back to state institutions such as FDCP,” he added.